Questions remain after Boston's 2024 Olympics bid ends
BOSTON (AP) -- Boston's bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics flamed out in spectacular fashion this week, with local organizers and the U.S. Olympic Committee deciding to part ways after the mayor and Massachusetts' governor refused to be rushed into a decision putting taxpayers on the hook if the games went over budget.
But while the rhetoric has died down and sports-mad Bostonians are starting to turn their attention elsewhere, there still are plenty of open questions and loose ends. Here's a look at a few:
Q: What are the chances Boston takes another stab at the Olympic games someday?
A: At this point, there doesn't seem to be much groundswell for an encore.
Mayor Martin Walsh, whose public rebuke of the so-called taxpayer guarantee was the final nail in the coffin for the 2024 bid, remains open to the idea and continues to believe in the games' potential to improve the city. In the meantime, he's closing the city's Office of Olympic Planning and shifting its $115,000-a-year executive director to other City Hall duties.
Gov. Charles Baker declined to weigh in this week, and legislative leaders had no immediate comment. State leaders are still expecting to hear from consultants hired to look into the city's bid sometime in August.
Q: If Boston becomes interested in future games, would the U.S. Olympic Committee take the bait?
A: The USOC appears eager to put the Boston debacle in its rearview and isn't talking about prospects for future games.
Instead, it says it's focused on the 2024 games and nominating another American city ahead of a September deadline. Olympics watchers suggest it might be years before Boston enters the conversation again.
Robert Livingstone, founder of GamesBids.com, noted Denver infamously pulled out of the 1976 Winter Games after winning the international competition. Only now is it in the mix as a possible 2022 or 2026 Winter Games candidate. "Time heals, I guess," Livingstone said.
Boston Olympics opponents aren't holding their breath.
Organizers of a proposed 2016 ballot referendum to block the use of state taxpayer dollars for the Olympics say they'll formally withdraw their petition next week. Christopher Dempsey, co-chairman of No Boston Olympics, says his separate opposition group will be winding down after raising more than $30,000 and spending about $10,000.
"We're not going to keep the lights on and be some standing army against this," he says. "At the same time, we've got deep roots in Boston, and we're going to continue to be engaged citizens."
Q: What becomes of Boston 2024, the deep-pocketed, privately funded group that developed the city's Olympics bid?
A: Boston 2024 confirmed it also is winding down its operations, which included at least 20 paid staffers with salaries ranging from $30,000 to $300,000 and an office in the city's tony Seaport District.
But officials there declined to comment on a range of financial questions posed by The Associated Press, promising to release a final report at some point.
Boston 2024 touted raising about $14 million in cash and in-kind donations in a June financial disclosure report, but it's not clear how much is left.
Erin Murphy, the group's chief operating officer, said the organization is looking for "tangible and intangible ways to ensure these efforts leave a positive legacy for the city." She declined to elaborate.
Q: Are donors clamoring for refunds?
A: That remains to be seen. Of the 39 donors Boston 2024 named in June, the AP called the top dozen, which were mostly wealthy individuals and corporations that gave between $100,000 and $2.5 million.
Two responded. Eastern Bank says it doesn't plan to ask for a refund for its $100,000 donation. To do so would be "out of character," said spokesman Andrew Ravens.
Mario Nicosia, a prominent Boston developer, said much the same for his donation, which falls in the range of $100,000 to $499,999. "I just assumed that money's been spent," he said.
Q: Are consultants and vendors concerned about getting paid?
A: That too remains to be seen. Through the first three months of 2015, Boston 2024 spent roughly $2 million, with about $1.1 million going to 25 consultants, who were collectively expecting to earn over $4.5 million annually for their work.
Organizers also inked a deal worth $1.3 million with marketing firm Interpublic Group and another with Teneo Sports for up to $1.25 million. Those companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Boston 2024 might also be on the hook for costs incurred by the USOC.
While the USOC says it won't hit Boston with a $25 million withdrawal penalty, it's remained silent on whether it would seek reimbursement for costs related to about a half-dozen staffers who helped with the bid. Those costs were capped at $3 million under an agreement between USOC and Boston 2024.
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